Leadership Blog Part 2: NAEP 2019 Conference Reflections

We asked the NAEP Fellows and NAEP Leadership to provide some thoughts and reflections on the recent 2019 NAEP Annual Conference held in Baltimore, MD. What was offered forth were words of encouragement, enthusiasm, connection, environmental challenge, genuine love and respect for NAEP friends and participants, and an overall glowing sense of this association’s leadership. Here are the thoughts and reflections of Gary Kelman, Marie Campbell, John Irving and John Perkins.

“I feel that as a leader, it is paramount to maintain the enthusiasm of those who you lead, as well as those who can be affected by your leadership. Aside from providing direction and insight, this enthusiasm will allow even those who do not have the implicit wherewithal to think out of the box, to come up with new ideas. Like someone said, just showing up is a majority of being successful. I do believe that showing contagious enthusiasm AND showing up with ideas is also a large part of success. The success of the conference, in large part, was the enthusiasm shown by the planning/technical committees. We overcame the issues that confronted us. The enthusiasm was maintained at the conference by the NAEP board, the Fellows, and by generally making the conference a friendly environment to exchange ideas.”

Gary Kelman, CEP
NAEP 2019 Conference Co-Chair
NAEP Fellow

“The NAEP annual conference, this year, as always, delivered on a premium opportunity to Be Connected with peers, colleagues, as well as entering and emerging professionals. What was particularly uplifting about this year’s conference experience was the amazing resilience demonstrated by environmental professionals, new and old, in light of the recent political and administrative climate. Resilience, the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, and toughness was on display in the presentations, integrated in the NEPA workshops, and it was a centerpiece of many engaging conversations. As a profession, we have not only withstood the demands of the President’s Executive Order 13807, Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects, we have pulled our collected knowledge together by forging new alliances and collaborations, to meet new timeline challenges, without compromising the spirit of NEPA to safeguard the quality of the natural and human environment.” 

“Maryland Secretary of the Environment, Ben Grumbles, presented the opening keynote address with important national themes related to protection of water quality and climate adaptation, and then returned in the evening to honor the 2019 recipients of Maryland Green Registry Annual Leadership Awards, highlighting the importance of acting globally, regionally, and locally. These important themes continued in presentations by Peter Grevatt, CEO of The Water Research Foundation, Joseph Kane, Associate Fellow at the Brookings Institute, and Colleen Turner, Assistant Director at the Maryland Department of Transportation, who challenged conference participants to approach environmental issues and problem solving in a holistic and comprehensive way. It is an honor to have served as President of NAEP, and I look forward to continuing to Be Connected to the environmental professionals here and abroad, who work diligently every day to safeguard the planet for current and future generations.”

Marie Campbell
NAEP Immediate Past President

“From both a professional and personal perspective, I experienced and felt – Friendship, Learning, Helping, Contributing, Empathy, Sadness, Hugging, Fun, Admiration, and Love. I felt a keen sense of friendship reuniting with people I have not seen for a while and with new friends made. I learned a tremendous amount on so many levels, from individual sessions, panels, luncheon and evening speakers, and, importantly, one-on-one interactions. I felt lucky to contribute by participating in conversations and meetings. I felt empathy and sadness for stories related on a personal level, such as NAEP Fellow Audrey Binder’s struggles with her father and Ben Grumbles’ pause when he was talking about the environment and the legacy left for his children. I hugged a lot of people, conveying my admiration for them, and they likewise feeling the same. I experienced fun in personal conversation. I laughed. And I felt genuine ‘love’ for many professional and personal friends. Some might question my use of the word ‘love’; its use does not need to be the same as we reserve for our spouse, children, or parents – but I have no problem using it in the same sense that someone would ‘love’ poetry or ‘love’ baseball. Finally, there is a feeling I have not mentioned yet – Gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity to mingle with so many good people! I love this profession, this organization and ‘its’ people!”

John Irving
NAEP Fellow

“At Gary Kelman’s enticement, I served as Track Chair for Climate Resiliency, and it was a fascinating collection of three panels with a total of nine speakers. Moreover, the speakers struck me as exhibiting leadership that will be critically important to NAEP’s future. The first panel, a committee from California AEP, reported on their study of Climate Action Plans prepared by local jurisdictions. It has proven quite difficult to move the U.S. federal government towards action on adaptations needed to cope with changes in climates, but cities and counties have clearly begun to move. Increase in weather temperatures, rises in sea level, and extreme weather events have already arrived, and local governments know they must cope. Environmental professionals will, out of necessity, be involved.

“The other two interesting climate panels examined the consequences of sea level rise on the infrastructure and communities in two areas, one in eastern Maryland and one in New Jersey. Some towns may be cut off on newly formed islands or inundated with sea water unless protective barriers rise. Helping the public understand the risks and future needs will be challenging to citizens and leaders alike. Employment patterns will change as some jobs are lost and new ones are created. Planning and architecture must change, with most certainly implications for zoning and building codes.

“And what of environmental impact assessment? NEPA and respective state environmental protection acts have always been a key element of environmental work. Are NEPA practitioners fully prepared to visualize and explain future effects of or on new projects? Are they prepared to help citizens and public leaders find the best ways to adapt? Can NEPA practitioners help promote the changes in energy use and land use to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide? We can’t change past history, but an animated graphic demonstrates that the United States has emitted more carbon dioxide than any other country, even though the USA is now the second largest emitter after China. (see Climate change: animation shows US leading the world in carbon emissions - Vox). Environmental professionals have important work to do as the world grapples with what may be the most monstrous problem ever with regards to cumulative environmental impacts.

I left Baltimore both sobered by the magnitude of the challenges and encouraged by the leadership I saw in the presentations on Climate Resiliency.”

John H Perkins, PhD, CEP
NAEP Fellow

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